38 parties a year

With the season opener less than a month away, and the home opener just a few days beyond that, baseball is once again in the air here in Hillsboro. It’s the best three months of the year, as we’re lucky enough to host 38 parties for the wonderful fans in our community who consider Ron Tonkin Field their summer home.

ZombieNight1

Don’t feed the zombies. (Craig Mitchelldyer/Hillsboro Hops)

And who doesn’t like theme parties?

Remember Zombie Night last year? It was a smash hit, as fans came dressed as the living dead, and face painters were on site to accommodate the forgetful. Well, on July 2, the undead will again descend upon Ron Tonkin Field in the sequel to the first installment. There will be a blood drive hosted on the front plaza of the stadium from 2-7 PM and we will again have face painters on the concourse. And, never fear, there will be a heavy dose of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” all throughout the night.

But that’s not the only fun night for kids and parents. On July 11 and 12, we’ll again be hosting Youth Sports Weekend. Little league teams can register for the event and will have the opportunity to walk around the field before the games and get autographs from Hops players. Teams are encouraged to sign up for the event by July 8. Contact Vanessa Parker at (503) 640-0887 if you’d like more information about getting a team in on the festivities.

IMG_1283

Sign your team up now for Youth Sports Weekend! (Craig Mitchelldyer/Hillsboro Hops)

If you’re a baseball history buff, you’ll love what we’ve got planned for August 20. We’re hosting Portland Mavericks Night, an homage to the former independent league baseball team that played in the Northwest League from 1973-1977. The team is the focus of the Netflix original documentary, “The Battered Bastards of Baseball.” We’ve got a few fun things up our sleeve for the night. Stay tuned for details.

The very next day, August 21, ESPN anchor and former Oregon resident Neil Everett will be the guest of honor. The first 1500 fans in attendance will receive custom-made Neil Everett bobbleheads, Neil will throw the first pitch, and in honor of Everett’s affinity for all things Hawaiian, we’ve scheduled Hawaiian night to coincide with his appearance. The Hops will also be passing out leis at the ballgame.

Lots of teams say it, but there truly is something for everybody at Ron Tonkin Field this year. It’s a lovely place to spend a summer, and a wonderful venue for some family time.

We can’t wait to see all of Hops Nation shortly and to share our ballpark, the best in all of Minor League Baseball, with all of you next month.

29 days until the Hops’ title defense begins. 34 days until the champs come home.

House at home in Visalia

J.R. House managed the 2014 Hillsboro Hops to a 52-28 record, the highest mark in all of Short-Season baseball, en route to a Northwest League Championship. Unsurprisingly, a performance like that earned him a call up the ranks to manage the Visalia Rawhide of the Advanced-A California League.

Now, how do you back up the best record in all of Short-Season baseball and a league championship? Well, House’s ‘Hide have shot out of the gate, posting a 20-7 record in their first 27 games, racing to a 6-game lead in the division, all the while outscoring opponents by a whopping 152-75 margin. I’m no expert, but that seems good.

Hillsboro Hops vs Salem-Kaiser Volcanoes

House’s ‘Hide can’t stop winning. (Craig Mitchelldyer/Hillsboro Hops)

OK, but how much difference does a manager really make? Look no further than House’s past stops. In 2012, he made his coaching debut as the hitting coach in the Rookie Pioneer League with the Missoula Osprey. Won a title. The next year, he jumped to Hillsboro to work with hitters here. It’s the only year he’s coached that he didn’t win it all. We all remember what happened in 2014 with him at the helm here. Now in 2015, his Rawhide certainly appear to be the early Cal League title favorite. Wins and House have become a trend, not an exception.

House isn’t the only 2014 Hop contributing to Visalia’s simmering start. He’s joined there by thumpers Kevin Cron and Stewart Ijames, who have combined to whack 12 home runs thus far. Ijames was a late call-up to the 2014 Hops, but was an immediate contributor to the postseason run, hitting two home runs and driving in five runs in the Hops’ four playoff victories. Cron set a then-Hops hitting-streak record with a 12-game run during the 2014 season, only to be surpassed by infielder Steve Nyisztor, who posted a 15-game streak. Their bats are a big reason why House and the ‘Hide keep posting victories.

The minor leagues are a place of constant evaluation–and not just for the players on the field. Minor league managers, hitting coaches, and pitching coaches are prospects just as much as the players they shape. Current Arizona Diamondbacks skipper Chip Hale was himself a minor league manager for three seasons with the Tucson Sidewinders, where he managed the former Diamondback Triple-A affiliate to the 2006 Pacific Coast League title.

Most major league managers have at least some experience coaching in the minor leagues, and if House’s clubs continue to overwhelm opponents, it won’t be long until he finds himself on the radar for some club in their managerial search. Add to that the fact that House was a Major League catcher and it can only help. This year alone in the big leagues, 16 of the 30 managers were catchers in their playing careers.

#RollHide

47 days until Shelley Duncan fills House’s big shoes in Hillsboro.

Hop relievers dominant at the next level

More often than not in 2014, when the Hops were leading the game after six innings, it was a done deal. Tally another in the win column, because Luis “Toro” Ramirez, Mason McCullough, Cody Geyer, and Zac Curtis were taking us home.

How good were they? The measure of a bullpen is directly correlative to the team’s performance in close games. In the regular season last year, the Hops posted an 18-10 record in 1-run games, and a 9-2 record in 2-run games. Frankly, it’s difficult to pitch when the game is on the line, and Hops relievers did it with aplomb.

Hillsboro Hops vs Spokane Indians

Luis Ramirez is doing what he did in Hillsboro with Kane County. (Craig Mitchelldyer/Hillsboro Hops)

Now, the reason I bring it up: Ramirez, McCullough, Geyer, and Curtis all moved up a level to the Long-A Midwest League to play for the Kane County Cougars. The step-up in competition has to mean a little regression, right? Nope.

Through April 29, the lines for the back-end of the 2014 Hops bullpen with the Kane County Cougars:

Luis Ramirez: 8 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 6 BB, 10 K, 2.25 ERA. Opponents hitting .115 against him.

Cody Geyer: 9.2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 7 SO, 0.93 ERA. Opponents hitting .103.

Zac Curtis: 8 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 11 K, 1.13 ERA. Opponents hitting .071.

Mason McCullough: 7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 4 BB, 9 K, 0.00 ERA. Opponents hitting .087.

Imagine being a team in the Midwest League, facing a 4-2 deficit against the Cougars in the 7th inning. Kane County skipper Mark Grudzielanek can just look into the bullpen for any former Hop, and feel confident that the game will go his way.

What does a good bullpen do for a team? It effectively shortens the game. Consider the Kansas City Royals, the reigning American League Champions. The back end of their bullpen last year consisted of Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis, and Greg Holland, an absolute murderer’s row of relievers. Royals’ starters just had to be decent through 6 innings, then pass it to that troika and wait for the “W” to be posted.

An additional benefit: If the team is trailing, the opposing team’s lead would not be extended as long as those relievers are toeing the rubber.

This is the advantage the Hops’ bullpen of 2014 provided for the eventual Northwest League Champions, and the advantage they’re bringing to the 2015 Kane County Cougars.

Keep it up, boys!

52 days until Opening Day.

Hopdate! Checking in on the alumni…

Most long-season minor-league clubs have about 15 games in the books thus far. As we highlighted earlier here, a bale of Hops have risen through the ranks, and have started making hay—er—beer?

Wordplay aside, promoted Hops have not been shy at the higher levels, and one, 2014 alum Todd Glaesmann, has even earned an early-season promotion.

Todd opened the season at Class-A Advanced Visalia, where he was playing for another former Hop, 2014 manager J.R. House. All Todd did there to earn that promotion was hit .419 with four home runs in seven games. Oh, almost forgot, he also hit for the cycle in one of those games, prompting this tweet from Visalia’s radio voice, Donny Baarns:

Mobile will be a test for Glaesmann, who spent an extended amount of time there last year. He struggled with the bat in the Southern League, but showed considerable improvement at the plate over the course of the off-season and in the early goings in Visalia. He’s only had nine at-bats in Mobile thus far, but he’s recorded three hits, so the early returns are positive.

Glaesmann wasn’t the only 2014 Hop causing a stir in Visalia. Masher Stewart Ijames has made himself right at home in the California League, currently leading the circuit in home runs with five through twelve games. Combine that with a slash line of .326/.383/.724/1.127 and you may venture to say that Stewart’s comfortable at the plate.

Visalia played the Stockton Ports on April 23, an Oakland Athletics affiliate, where A’s ace Jarrod Parker was making a rehab start against the Rawhide. Didn’t make a difference for Stewart:

And guess who got the win over Parker in that start? Hops 2013-14 alum Ryan Doran, who just continues to produce everywhere he goes:

Hops’ 2014 manager J.R. House holds the reins for the Rawhide and has been turning his boys loose. The Hide have raced out to a 12-3 record, already holding a four-game lead in their division just fifteen games into the season. They’ve outscored their opponents by a staggering 56 runs, 98-42. Keep it up Rawhide, and we’ll keep sending you Hops.

A step below in Visalia at Kane County, ’14 alum Grant Heyman is hitting .286 in his first 14 games as he adjusts to Midwest League pitching. Hops’ 2014 closer Zac Curtis continues to overwhelm batters, working to a 1.69 ERA over his first 5.1 innings while recording 8 strikeouts. Last year’s Northwest League All-Star Game starter Nick Baker holds a 1.80 ERA in his first 10 innings with the Cougars, and 2014 NWL All-Star Cody Geyer is posting a 1.04 ERA through 8.2 innings.

Quick-Hits: the four former Hops we featured in the race to the big leagues (Jimmie Sherfy, Aaron Blair, Braden Shipley, and Will Locante) are all in Double-A Mobile. Shipley has enjoyed the strongest start for the BayBears of the Southern League, posting a 1.08 ERA through his first three starts, a span of 16.2 innings. He continues to develop and improve as he gains more experience on the mound. Sherfy has been strong, with an ERA of 3.00 through his first six innings.

You can keep up with Hops alumni at http://www.milb.com. 59 days until Opening Day.

Ron Tonkin Field: a stronghold in sustainability

Editor’s Note: This story also appears online here.

As a minor-league baseball team on the outskirts of Portland, Oregon, sustainability and environmentally-friendly practices are second nature. The lifestyle in the Pacific Northwest is one of recycling, reusing and reducing, and the Hillsboro Hops do everything they can to contribute to the sustainability of our ballpark, surrounding communities, and the state of Oregon.

Consider Ron Tonkin Field: the home of the Hops. The stadium was constructed in 2013 and is one of the most eco-friendly ballparks in the country. As the facility was being built, over 57 tons of general construction debris was able to be salvaged and recycled. An additional 77 tons of concrete and masonry was taken to a local facility to be crushed for structural fill. The foundation of the ballpark itself is based in sustainability.

Hillsboro Hops vs Salem-Kaiser Volcanoes

The Tonk, in all her glory. (Craig Mitchelldyer/Hillsboro Hops)

Another key component of the Hops’ green initiative is the ballpark’s artificial turf field. The amount of water it takes to keep natural grass healthy, not just during the season, but also during the off-season is enormous, and is avoided altogether with our artificial turf. All bathrooms, showers, and kitchens at the facility also use low-flow water conservation systems, to significantly reduce the amount of water used.

The building features recycling bins scattered all around the concourse, as well as receptacles for compost and landfill. Anyone who has been to a baseball game is aware of the amount of cans and plastic bottles that are used at the event, and it is important to provide an efficient means of disposal for those materials. Ron Tonkin Field also encourages fans to bring in re-usable water bottles that can be filled up at any of the water fountains lining the concourses.

Thousands of people fill the stands at Ron Tonkin Field every time the Hops play a home game, which means that transportation was something that needed to be addressed. We’re faced with a challenge of being outside the immediate proximity of a public transportation system. To resolve the issue, we offer a complimentary, eco-friendly Hops shuttle to and from Ron Tonkin Field from the closest Tri-Met train stop. Fans and game-day employees use both the train and shuttle and help take cars off the road.

The communities of the Pacific Northwest are passionate about the environment, and it’s important for the local professional baseball team to reflect its community whenever possible. We wanted to construct a facility that would provide fun for our fans and citizens while also remaining in line with the core values of the local community. We’re proud of Ron Tonkin Field and the sustainability of our ballpark.

Braden Shipley (Hops, 2013) would like your attention

In the fourth and final installment of our investigation into the first Hop to crack the Arizona Diamondbacks’ roster, I’ll take a look at 2013 1st-rounder Braden Shipley. Previously profiled in the race to the big leagues: Aaron Blair, Will Locante, and Jimmie Sherfy.

Shipley is an interesting story. Born and raised about five hours south of Hillsboro in Medford, Oregon, he attended the University of Nevada, quickly becoming the favorite player of Jason Gavigan, our director of ticket operations and Nevada grad.

Shipley didn’t start pitching until his junior year of high school, and when he arrived on his college campus in Reno, he actually played shortstop due to the team’s need at the position. He was no lame duck at short, making second-team all-conference in the Western Athletic Conference as a freshman.

Hillsboro Hops vs Spokane Indians

(Craig Mitchelldyer/Hillsboro Hops)

In his sophomore and junior years, Shipley focused solely on pitching, and the athleticism he had previously displayed at shortstop played a large role in his development into Arizona’s second-ranked prospect, behind only the newly promoted Archie Bradley. Assuming Bradley remains in the big leagues, Shipley is now Arizona’s top prospect still in the minor leagues.

The Oregon native was taken 15th overall in 2013, and started his professional career in his home state with the Hillsboro Hops. Hillsboro was a nice, local, jumping-off point for Shipley, where he recorded just 19 innings. At lower levels of the minor leagues, evaluators will look more at peripheral statistics like strikeout-to-walk ratio rather than simple, cut-and-dry earned-run-average. Look beyond Shipley’s 7.58 ERA, and instead see that he struck out 24 and walked only 6 batters, and you’ll see that he had the repertoire to get hitters out. A 4:1 K:BB ratio is nothing to sneeze at, and it garnered him a call-up to Long-A South Bend.

In 2013 at South Bend, his peripherals matched up with his ERA. In 20.2 innings in the Midwest League, he worked to a 2.61 ERA and hitters managed to hit just .194 off of him. Needless to say, the organization was excited.

He opened 2014 at South Bend to more success. He threw another 42.3 innings and walked only 11, putting to rest concerns about command. He was promoted to Visalia of the hitter-friendly California League, and managed a 4.03 ERA in 60.1 innings, pitching almost exclusively in hitter-friendly ballparks.

He finished out 2014 in AA Mobile of the Southern League, working to a 3.60 ERA in 20 innings. His performance earned him a spot in Arizona’s big league camp to start the year, where he proved he can make pitches to big-league hitters. He threw 4 innings in big-league spring training, and allowed just one earned run while striking out two.

His growth has earned him praise from national baseball analysts. Just last week, former Diamondback and current ESPN broadcaster and analyst Curt Schilling posted this on his twitter account.

Schilling’s words reference Shipley’s youth when it comes to pitching. For a guy who started pitching full-time just four years ago, he is still new to the craft. As he gains more and more experience in sequencing, command, and repertoire, his natural athleticism will separate him from the batters he is facing. Schilling recognizes this athleticism, the raw stuff Shipley possesses, and the inexperience that will fade quickly with more time on the mound.

Shipley boasts a strong fastball that sits in the mid-90’s that he can pump up into the high 90’s and a curveball that continues to improve the more he throws it, but the breadwinner for him is his change-up. Heralded as the best change-up in the Diamondbacks’ minor-league system, Shipley uses it to get swings-and-misses from hitters and tally up strikeouts.

Shipley was assigned to AA Mobile to start 2015, where he earned an opening-day start and pitched admirably, allowing just one earned run in 6.2 innings while striking out four. It would not be a shock for Shipley to get a call to the big-leagues this year, especially if the Diamondbacks’ rotation struggles, or if injuries beset any members. He still needs some time, and as Schilling alluded to, experience on the mound to iron out command and work on his curveball. Shipley could get a cup of coffee in the big leagues this year when rosters expand to 40 players in September, and if all goes well for him, he should be competing for a spot in the Diamondbacks’ 2016 Opening Day rotation.

So what do you think Hops fans? Who’s going to be the first Hop to play at Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona?

68 days until Opening Day.

Twenty-eight Hops (and two managers!) sprouting up

The 2015 Major League Baseball season is finally underway, which means long-season minor-league rosters have been finalized. All told, 28 former Hops players (and two managers!) find themselves on full-season minor league rosters at the start of the 2015 season.

The breakdown:                                              Mobile_BayBears

Mobile BayBears (AA Southern League)

  • Aaron Blair (RHP, Hops, 2013)
  • Will Locante (LHP, Hops, 2013)
  • Jimmie Sherfy (RHP, Hops, 2013)
  • Braden Shipley (RHP, Hops, 2013)
  • Ryan Gebhardt (INF, Hops, 2013)

Visalia Rawhide (Class-A Advanced California League)

  • Tyler Baker (C, Hops, 2014)visalia-rawhide-primary-logo-2-primary
  • J.R. Bradley (RHP, Hops, 2013)
  • Kevin Cron (INF, Hops, 2014)
  • Ryan Doran (RHP, Hops 2013-14)
  • Daniel Gibson (LHP, Hops 2013)
  • Todd Glaesmann (OF, Hops, 2014)
  • Stewart Ijames (OF, Hops, 2014)
  • Jose Jose (LHP, Hops, 2013)
  • Daniel Palka (INF, Hops, 2013)
  • George Roberts (INF, Hops, 2013-14)
  • Johnny Shuttlesworth (RHP, Hops, 2013)
  • Blayne Weller (RHP, Hops, 2013)

Visalia will also be managed by 2014 Hillsboro Hops manager, J.R. House. Hops’ 2014 trainer Chad Moeller will join House in Visalia.

Kane County Cougars (Class-A Midwest League)

  • Nick Baker (RHP, Hops, 2014)kane county
  • Zac Curtis (LHP, Hops, 2014)
  • Cody Geyer (RHP, Hops, 2014)
  • Brent Jones (RHP, Hops, 2014)
  • Brad Keller (RHP, Hops, 2014)
  • Mason McCullough (RHP, Hops, 2014)
  • Jared Miller (LHP, Hops, 2014)
  • Luis Ramirez (RHP, Hops, 2014)
  • Markus Solbach (RHP, Hops, 2014)
  • Stryker Trahan (C, Hops, 2014)
  • Grant Heyman (OF, Hops, 2014)

Audo Vicente, 2013 Hillsboro Hops manager, will open the season as a roving minor-league instructor at Kane County. Sean Light, the 2014 Hops strength and conditioning coach, will also join Kane County.

Here in Hillsboro, we’re still awaiting our opening day roster, but we can feel confident we’ll have plenty of talent coming our way, given that 28 of our former guys have been promoted. Mobile, Visalia, and Kane County all get their seasons started on Thursday, April 9. You can follow all of our former players on www.milb.com.

There is a very, very good chance the first Hop will crack the Diamondbacks in 2015, and if you’re wondering whom, follow Mobile closely. If there is attrition in the major league rotation, or injuries in the bullpen, a former Hop and current BayBear may be called upon.

76 days until Opening Day.

Long Ball Ale six packs to hit stores in April

FullSizeRender (1)

They’re already on shelves at New Seasons in Orenco Station.

The Hillsboro Hops are fortunate to enjoy a fantastic partnership with BridgePort Brewing. BridgePort is the oldest craft brewery in the Portland-metro area, and is responsible for the wonderfully-popular “Long Ball Ale,” the official beer of the Hillsboro Hops. The beer was specially designed to be easy to drink, and is the perfect complement to a sunny summer evening at Ron Tonkin Field.

Which is what makes this next part so fantastic. In early-to-mid-April, grocery stores all over the Portland-metro area will begin stocking 6-packs of Long Ball Ale. The Hillsboro Hops will be the first minor-league baseball team to offer their signature beer in a six pack.2015033195155536

“Beer and baseball is something that just goes hand-in-hand, and we’re excited to see the Long Ball Ale become more accessible to our fans. BridgePort has been wonderful to work with, and the beer has been extremely popular, so it was a no-brainer to get together and bring these six packs to our fans,” said Hops Executive Vice President and General Manager K.L. Wombacher.

Long Ball Ale has been a smash hit among Hop Heads all over Hillsboro–and beyond. We sent a batch of Long Ball down to the Diamondbacks’ Salt River Fields spring training facility in Scottsdale, Arizona, and the beer sold out in 8 days!

The beer was designed with the ballpark in mind, and BridgePort knocked it out of the park. Now, Hop fans all over Oregon will have the chance to enjoy it in the comfort of their own homes as well.

Be on the lookout for Long Ball Ale in grocery stores soon, and be sure to grab yourself a six pack. It won’t be long until you can enjoy one at the ballpark again.

80 days until Opening Day.

Q&A with Hops shortstop Justin Gonzalez

As a Hops community, we like to keep up with our former players as much as we can. A few weeks back, we got to visit with Zac Curtis, Nick Baker, Steve Nyisztor, Felipe Perez, Mike Cetta, and Stewart Ijames when we were down in Scottsdale for Arizona Diamondbacks spring training. It was good to see the champs again, and they all had great things to say about Hillsboro and last season’s championship run.

A few weeks back I shot off an e-mail to last year’s shortstop Justin Gonzalez asking how his off-season was going.  If anyone has ever spent any time around him, they can attest to how nice and genuine a guy Justin is. In the throes of spring training, he took the time to catch up with me and update Hops Nation on how his off-season has been going, how he liked Hillsboro, and to reflect on last year’s championship campaign.

Hop Stove: First things first…how did it feel to win a championship with the Hops in your first year as a professional?

Justin Gonzalez: It was an incredible experience. To be able to be a part of something like that was truly remarkable. The fans contributed tremendously by the support they showed throughout the season.

HS: What made last year’s Hops so special?

JG: I think it was a mixture of chemistry and leadership. As players, everyone understood their individual roles and they bought in from the beginning to going all the way. That’s a huge credit to the coaching staff for communicating and preparing us everyday to not only perform well but win. K.L. and the rest of the Hop staff really did an excellent job of taking care of us on and off the field.

HS: As a native Floridian and a former Florida State Seminole, what was it like to start your career across the country in Hillsboro, Oregon?

JG: I have never experienced anything like it. Hillsboro and really all of Oregon is a really beautiful place.

HS: What was your favorite thing about Hillsboro?

MiLB: Hops vs Tri City

(Craig Mitchelldyer/Hillsboro Hops)

JG: I would have to say the nature. On the few off days we had, I took advantage and went out to Cannon Beach. I also had the opportunity to go see Silver Falls State Park. Both places were incredible. I had never seen anything like it. Downtown Portland was pretty cool too. Also, my host family Dani and Allan really made my stay in Hillsboro unforgettable.

HS: How was it playing at Ron Tonkin Field? How did it compare to the other stadiums in the Northwest League?

JG: It was awesome. I think the best part about playing there were not only the facilities but the fans. Overnight it seemed like it was a packed house. It’s a long season and it can get monotonous, but when you have fans like that it definitely gives you more of a reason to play.

HS: We’re in the off-season now. What have you been doing to get ready for the 2015 season?

JG: I really have been working on getting my body healthy for the upcoming year. That was my primary focus this off-season. I also have been in the weight room and on the field every other day. Working on some things that I learned over the summer.

HS: You told me earlier you’ve started playing guitar over the off-season. How’s that going? What’s your favorite song to play?

JG: Well let’s just say I won’t be playing in concert anytime soon. I figured I would try and teach myself to occupy some downtime I had. I have a new found respect for musicians. I really haven’t learned many songs. Mainly learning the chords and getting comfortable transitioning between them.

HS: The Diamondbacks selected you in the 9th round of the 2014 MLB First-Year Player Draft. You had been drafted twice before but didn’t sign. What’s it like to get that phone call, knowing you’re going to sign this time around?

JG: It definitely was exciting and nervewracking each time, but this time around to actually sign was a moment I would never forget. All the hard work had finally paid off to get here, but now a different journey begins. I really am grateful to the Diamondbacks for this opportunity.

HS: Have you set any goals for 2015? What would you like to accomplish?

JG: Well, I don’t really have any specific expectations for this season. I’m going to just stay in the moment and enjoy the ride. Doing my best to stay in the moment and compete the best I can, with the goal of becoming a complete player and teammate.

We’d like to give another big thank you to Justin for taking the time to chat, and also for his contributions as a player and teammate to our 2014 Northwest League Championship. He’s been very busy preparing for the upcoming season, and we wish him well in camp and beyond. Stay healthy, Justin!

91 days until Opening Day.

Ducks to take on Seattle U at Ron Tonkin Field April 1

We’re 96 days away from the Hops’ home opener on June 23. Daunting, I know, but less so than it was about a week ago. BUT! What if I told you that you could actually watch a baseball game at Ron Tonkin Field in just 14 days? Well, you’re in luck! On April 1 at 6 PM, the University of Oregon Ducks will square off with the Seattle University Redhawks in the first-ever NCAA Division I baseball game played at Ron Tonkin Field, home of your Hillsboro Hops.

“We’re always eager to show off the incredible facility we have in Hillsboro at Ron Tonkin Field. But on top of that, to be able to bring a national power like the Ducks in to play a talented Seattle squad is something we wanted to do for our fans,” said Hops Executive Vice President and General Manager K.L. Wombacher.

The Ducks made a fast ascension to national prominence following the reinstatement of their baseball program in 2009. At time of writing, Oregon is on the cusp of a Top-10 national ranking sitting at #11 in the country. Oregon is led by George Horton, who steered Cal State Fullerton to the 2004 College World Series Championship.

Oregon finished the 2014 season with a 44-20 overall record, including an 18-12 mark in Pac-12 conference play. They feature a bevy of potentially professional talent on this year’s roster, including LHP Cole Irvin and INF Matt Eureste, both of whom have already been drafted before.

Seattle is led by INF Sheldon Stober, who is currently among the league leaders in the Western Athletic Conference with a .342 batting average through the first 20 games of the season.

It will be the collegiate debut for Ron Tonkin Field, as this game will serve as the first NCAA Division I game played in Hillsboro. The game will be a fantastic showcase of baseball talent in the Pacific Northwest, and also of the ballpark we are so fortunate to call home.

Tickets are available at www.hillsborohops.com. You can also call into the office at (503) 640-0887, and a Hops staffer will be happy to assist you.

Duck fans: this is an opportunity to see a talented Oregon squad without having to head two hours down the I-5 to Eugene. It’s not everyday that a top-15 team comes to you! And who knows? Maybe there is a future Hop on the field.

14 days until the Ducks play. 96 days until the Hops play.

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